We are rapidly approaching the 31st January personal tax return deadline.

Many people may just be starting on the tax returns after the holidays, however there is still time to get help for them provided they don’t leave things too late.

One new change in HMRC fines, that people may have missed, is that the fines are payable even if you don’t have any tax due.

In the past you could appeal against the £100 penalty charge and this would be cancelled if there was no tax due at 31st January, however now the fine will still be due.

And on top of the £100 fine on 1st February, there are other new penalties that could mean someone has a £1,600 fine for a late tax return… charged even if they don’t actually owe any tax.

So, it’s important to make sure that returns are submitted before the deadline – I’m expecting many stories in the press in 2012 about these new fines, that were announced months ago but many people seem to have missed. By then, however, it will be too late – HMRC have stated in interviews that they fully intend to charge these new fines.